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Posadas celebrate Christmas through re-enactment (w/video)

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 22, 2013 at 6:22 a.m.

Aaliyah Castillo, 11, makes her way through the entrance of a house after she, as the virgin Mary, was finally given shelter during a posada  Thursday. The group travelled from house to house singing and praying before being let into the third house, where they gathered to eat and celebrate during the re-enactment.

Folding their hands in prayer, 7-year-olds Izaiah Garcia and Nevaeh Sanchez led a group of Christmas carolers down Isolda Street in Victoria.

The pair were asked to dress as angels for this year's Christmastime posada, hosted by Our Lady of Sorrows' Sister Maria Garcia.

Standing behind the angels, Fernando Perado, 48, starred as Joseph, and Aaliyah Castillo, 11, took the role of a pregnant Mary, reenacting the eve they went searching for lodging in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago.

"They had no place to stay that night. They were poor, and Mary was riding on a donkey. When they asked for lodging, they were sent away," Garcia said. "Our posadas celebrate that night when they recognize she's the mother of God and welcome them in so she could have the baby."

Posada, meaning shelter or lodging, is a Christmas tradition among Hispanic families.

On Thursday, Sister Garcia and about 50 members of Our Lady of Sorrows gathered at Minnie Castillo's home to begin the posada march through her neighborhood.

The crowd prays the rosary and sings festive Latin music as they walk to three homes, asking for lodging. Mary and Joseph are denied three times, then welcomed in the home for a potluck feast when they return to Castillo's home.

"My grandfather used to have posadas when I was little. It's a blessing on our home to host this because of the prayers we get from family and friends," Castillo said. "We're honored that we were asked."

Included in the posada group are a five-man band of guitar, accordion and percussion players, who lead the group in their Spanish-sung carols that are recited by singers indoors and outdoors.

"In the name of heaven, I beg you for lodging, for she cannot walk, my beloved wife," the first group of outsiders sing in Spanish.

"This is not an inn, so keep going. I cannot open, you may be a rogue," the inside singers respond.

About an hour later, when the posada group arrives back at Castillo's home, Mary and Joseph are welcomed.

"My wife is Mary. She's the queen of heaven, and she's going to be the mother of the divine (child)," the outside group sings.

"Are you Joseph? Your wife is Mary? Enter, pilgrims, I did not recognize you," the inside group responds.

At the close of the posada, Sorrows' The Rev. Daniel Houde prays over the Castillo's home and blesses the feast before the group eats and celebrates the season with friends on the front lawn.

"This is what the season is about. It's remembering the birth of Jesus," Garcia said. "It reminds us to be hospitable and provide food for the hungry, shelter for the needy and kindness to those in need."



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